220px-The_Unforgettable_FireU2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)” – (1984)

We’re taking a break from out countdown of the top songs of 1962 because of Christmas being around the corner. Before we get to a few Christmas songs, here is one of U2’s best. It’s from 1984 but I always though it was from the early 1990s. Also, as good as this song is (it’s about MLK by the way, if you didn’t pick up on it), it only reached #2 in Ireland. What could’ve been #1 that week?

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#16 – U2 – “Beautiful Day” – (2000)

Man, I remember when this song came out. It was everywhere. Want a taste of 1999/2000 British culture? Watch the video. The video wouldn’t go away back in 2000 and 2001. I think it probably aired on VH1 at least eight times a day. I’ve always been a come and go U2 fan and I loathed this song when it was fresh but love it now. It’s one of their biggest hits and the sound is more reminiscent of The Joshua Tree than any of that weird crap they did in the 90s. It won three Grammys and was a #1 in just about every European country where Bono is actually closest to the god that he thinks he is. It’s some of their best work.

U2 – “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – (1983)

Some bands take it upon themselves to be the torch bearers of some political cause. Usually it’s just annoying. But Bono manages to take it to a new level of annoying. And it isn’t just a recent thing. This song is one of the more political songs U2 ever recorded. It’s about the Bloody Sunday incident in Northern Ireland when British troops opened fire on protesters and bystanders. And it was on an album titled War. It was a top ten hit in the U.S.

U2 – “Sweetest Thing” – (1987/1998)

Okay, while Wednesday’s song made me look stupid, this one hopefully restores some faith, as the decade it hails from is actually kind of confusing. Let me first by saying two things: 1. Bono totally looks like Elvis Costello in the music video and 2. This is the greatest song U2 has ever done. The song was originally released as a b-side on the “Where the Streets Have No Name” single in 1987. It was re-recorded and re-released in 1998 on the compilation album “The Best of 1980-1990.” While essentially the same, the new version is far superior. In the late 1990s, it was a top ten in the U.S. and Australia, hitting #1 in Canada and Ireland and entering the top five in the U.K. Versions of the song have appeared in various films and it was everywhere on the radio in 1998 and 1999. It is a wonderful tune.

U2 – “New Year’s Day” – (1983)

I was trying to come up with songs about the New Year and, well, this one had the holiday’s name in its title so I figured it would work. War was U2’s third album and, in all honesty, the first one with any songs of note (I almost said, “The first one that mattered” but didn’t want to be attacked by Bono and called a simpleton for “not understanding” their early work). Anyway, this was the lead single and it brought the band commercial success. Of course, the lyrics have to be about a plight somewhere in this world (in this case, Poland). The bassline is pretty groovy and it works well as a rock song – not so much as a New Year’s song, other than the title.

U2 – “Where the Streets Have No Name” – (1987)

This was track no. 1 on The Joshua Tree – it’s always nice when that opening track is at least good so when you pop the album in and hit play you don’t have to skip around to find something decent. But I think “Where the Streets Have No Name” is a little better than decent. I’m sure (because Bono was involved) that this song has some kind of deep meaning, but I always considered how much it would piss me off to live in a town where the streets actually had no name. The pulsating guitar, with the percussion to match it, gives this song a wonderfully up-tempo feel. It’s one of U2’s best.

U2 – “With or Without You” – (1987)

“With or Without You” was U2’s first #1 single in the U.S. and Canada. It remains one of U2’s best known songs. Something I never really noticed about this song is that it doesn’t do the whole chorus-verse-chorus thing. It just kind of goes with these big building lyrics and memorable guitar. This music video reminds me what a kind of strange figure Bono is. I mean, his name is “Bono” and he’s been this looming presence in the world (not just the music world) for almost 30 years. In the video it’s weird seeing him without sunglasses on.

#39 – U2 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – (1987)

As much as I love “Pride (In the Name of Love)” – and I really do love that song – I felt that The Joshua Tree needed to be represented here as it is one of the biggest albums of all time. This song is amazing and I think it’s the pick of the bunch from the album – which is full of great singles. This song has a unique and very rhythmic beat that almost implies physical movement, even though it’s just a song. This wasn’t U2’s first big hit (it was the second consecutive #1 hit from the album) but it helped cement their legacy, in America especially as they have always been bigger in Europe than in North America (even to this day). The hits from The Joshua Tree remain staples of American pop radio today and will be there for the foreseeable future.

#72 – U2 – “One” – (1991)

Not only is “One” one of U2’s greatest songs, it is one of the greatest songs. Say what you want about Pop or Zooropa, but Achtung Baby is the only U2 album from the 90s that is still relevant. Mostly because of the two great singles from it that have been featured on this list. U2 is weird in that every few albums or so, they’ll just nail it – then follow it with weak album after weak album. I think they are about due for greatness again.

#194 – U2 – “Mysterious Ways” – (1991)

The best part is at the end of each verse before the chorus when Bono emphasizes a phrase or word and then the weird guitar riff kicks in… ex. “You’ve been running away/From what you don’t understand…/Look” or “If you want to kiss the sky/Better learn how to kneel/On your knees boy.”